How to Make a Healthy Smoothie

 In Nutrition

Smoothie season is approaching! Or if you’re like me, smoothies are a year-round staple. The typical smoothie is loaded with sugar (both natural and added), which can send the body on a blood sugar rollercoaster all day. It will leave you energized for a brief moment, then leave you hungry and cranky an hour or two later. Let’s avoid that! It’s important to make sure a smoothie is balanced with multiple food groups, is nutrient-dense, and keeps you satisfied for hours.

Fruit

To add sweetener, use a controlled amount of fruit as natural sugar. Both fresh or frozen fruit can be used. If you like spooning/eating your smoothie versus drinking it, aim for a thicker consistency. Using frozen fruit and other frozen ingredients will make the smoothie thicker.

1 fruit serving =

  • 1/2 cup berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, etc.)
  • 1/2 cup peach slices
  • 1/4 cup mango or pineapple chunks
  • 1-2 dates or figs
  • 1/2 banana

Fiber

Fiber is important to keep blood sugars stable, manage cholesterol, stay satiated, and digestion moving! Fiber introduction can cause gastrointestinal (GI) disturbance (i.e. gas, bloating) in some people. Especially if fiber is not typically consumed or if there is another form of dysbiosis occurring. Pay attention to how fiber makes you feel, if you have GI effects there could be an underlying issue going on.

1-2 tablespoons of:

  • Flaxseed (ground or whole)
  • Chia seeds
  • Acacia fiber

Fat

Healthy fat is a crucial part of a balanced meal. And it’s often overlooked in smoothies. Including healthy fat is essential for keeping the meal filling and having lasting energy. It is also essential for absorbing vitamins and nutrients. For example vitamins A, D, E, and K all need to be consumed with fat to be absorbed. If there is no fat present, these vitamins will not be properly absorbed by the body and instead will be flushed out!

1-2 tablespoons of:

  • Coconut oil *
  • MCT oil *
  • Coconut butter
  • Coconut chunks
  • Natural nut or seed butter
  • Raw nuts or seeds

*Coconut or MCT oil can cause diarrhea or loose stools in some individuals. If these are new to your diet, start with 1/2 tbsp. at a time and increase as tolerated.

Protein

Protein is also essential in keeping you satisfied after a meal! It will also help in muscle repair and other benefits (depending on the type of protein used). Whether it’s plant-based or animal-derived, quality matters. If choosing a plant-based option, look for “Non-GMO” and/or “Organic” labels. For animal-derived options, look for “Organic” and/or “Grass-Fed” labels.

20-30 grams

  • Plant-based: pea or hemp protein powders
  • Animal-based: whey or collagen protein powders

There are more options for protein powders, the ones listed are my personal recommendations. Also keep in mind protein can be included outside of the smoothie, for example having eggs on the side.

Fluid

To avoid added sugars and fillers, opt for unsweetened fluids. Play with ratios of liquids and solids to see what consistency works for you!

  • Almond milk
  • Cashew milk
  • Coconut milk *
  • Coconut water
  • Water

*If coconut milk is being used, additional fat does not have to be added to the smoothie due to the healthy fat already present in coconut.

Add-Ins

Add-ins are optional, but can be an opportunity for a health boost. They can add flavor and extra nutrients to the smoothie meal!

Vegetables

  • Spinach
  • Baby kale
  • Zucchini chunks *
  • Cauliflower florets *
  • Broccoli stems
  • Beets *

*These can be steamed then frozen for easier digestion.

Flavor

  • Cacao powder (chocolate)
  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg
  • Vanilla
  • Cacao nibs

Combination Ideas

Portions and serving sizes should be customized by each person to meet their own individual needs. The recommended portions listed above are listed as ranges for that purpose.

  • Blueberries + chia seed + almond butter + protein + fluid + spinach + cacao powder
  • Strawberries + flaxseed + coconut chunks + protein + fluid + zucchini chunks + cinnamon
  • Banana + acacia fiber + peanut butter + protein + fluid + cauliflower florets + cacao powder
  • Pineapple + hemp seeds + coconut butter + protein + milk + vanilla

What are some of your favorite smoothie combinations? I love getting creative and hearing your ideas. Comment below!

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